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If a company has a bulletin board at the workplace, does the employer have a right to restrict what can be posted on the bulletin board.

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This question relates to whether or not employees have the right to freedom of speech in the workplace. Workers in the private sector are not generally protected by the First Amendment at work. When people think about freedom of speech, they are referring to the rights offered by the First Amendment which addresses the government controlling individuals’ rights. In the private workplace, employers can control information that is shared and posted within their private business. Messages left on a company bulletin board should be thought of as announcements made to all employees. If the message is something that could disrupt the work environment, for example political posters or any material that could be considered controversial, the employer has every right to remove it from the board. However, the employer must be fair and just in its bulletin board policies. For example, removing all postings related to one religion yet allowing other religions to post on the board could be considered a violation of anti-discrimination law. Public sector employees have more freedoms under the First Amendment since they are working directly for the government.

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Because your other questions are clearly related to bulletin boards and unionization, I will focus on that issue here as well.  In general, companies do have the right to restrict what is posted on their bulletin boards.  The bulletin boards are their private property and they generally have the right to restrict the uses that are made of that private property.  However, particularly with regard to unionization and other issues of worker rights, companies must be very careful.

First, companies need to have clear policies about what can and cannot be posted on their bulletin boards.  A company cannot feel secure if it simply makes case-by-base decisions about what sorts of materials are acceptable.  This leaves the firm open to claims that it is violating employee rights if it prevents employees from posting information about unions. 

Second, companies have to have those policies in place before they are needed.  A firm cannot simply see a posting that it does not like and then create a policy that bans that type of posting. 

Finally, company rules about postings cannot be motivated by an anti-union bias.  The rules have to have some purpose other than to prevent unionization.

Thus, employers do have the right to determine what goes up on their bulletin boards, but they have to make sure that they set up policies about the bulletin boards in the correct way.

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